The Kindred

Ah, another “modern Prometheus” evil experiment movie. You seldom go wrong with a lab coat and nefarious doings in a basement lab. Enter, The Kindred, a movie with dollops of backstory and erudition to spare usually the opposite in these kinds of things, especially ones filmed on the cheap.

Dr. Amanda Hollins’ life work lurks in bubbling Florence flasks and mysterious beakers in a dark subterranean lair.After all, that’s where the very best biomedical research labs are, let’s be honest.

Dr. Hollins had a falling out with evil Dr. Lloyd (Rod Steiger) over the direction of their controversial gene-splicing research. She has moral scruples, he decidedly does not.

Hollins is not long for this earth, and issues an edict to son John to destroy the fruits of her labors before they get into the wrong hands. John and a bunch of grad student buddies head to her home and basement lab to do her bidding.

But things are never cut-and-dried. There’s a young Hollins acolyte among them, Melissa, who is keen on preserving the doc’s research for posterity.

Da-da-dum.

It’s what the group eventually find in the lab that inspired the title, The Kindred, and what adds another appendage to the Hollins family tree.

The movie’s baby bottle fetus poster is undoubtedly etched in the memories of seasoned gore hounds, even if they never got around to actually watching The Kindred (it wasn’t exactly a breakout smash in 1987).

Still, with slimy creatures, savvy, smarts, infidelity, and grave-robbing, The Kindred has the makings of a 19th century novel! (turns out Dr Lloyd is in cahoots with a body snatcher who passes him near-dead bodies).

Rod Steiger chews the scenery like nicotine gum, but regardless…it’s a fun role, and Amanda Pays (above) is dynamite as grad student/temptress Melissa.

Fans of ’50s monster movies will be delighted as there are definite nods to flicks like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die and countless others.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The Kindred on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

Sweet Sixteen

What terrors are unleashed when a girl turns…Sweet Sixteen?

More like Sweet Twenty-Seven. Horror starlets are  like Mexican prizefighters…it’s hard to get an accurate birth-date.

There’s a new girl arrival in some hole-in-the-wall hick town. She meets a couple of guys in a sh*t-kicker bar with fluorescent Bud signs and leaves with one of ’em. The guy says, “I’m Johnny. And this is my truck” as if the vehicle was going to engage them in conversation. Talk about effortless charm. Eat your heart out Cary Grant.

They go to the town’s equivalent of make-out point and she gets spooked before either of them can get their pants off at this, the site of an ancient Indian burial ground. They puff a little weed and think about what they’ll tell the folks about how they spent the evening (the girl suggests they were at “the library” but this burg don’t have one. Which explains a lot). After they part ways, Johnny is stabbed to death repeatedly in the chest by an unseen assailant, and absolutely nobody misses him (oh wait, that’s an editorial comment).

The town sheriff, Burke, is summoned. He’s played by South Carolina genre legend Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch/American Graffiti) He pokes around, and gets some assistance from his dilettante teen daughter about the finer points of police work (she’s eminently qualified being into mystery novels all. Slasher fans will know her as Dana Kimmell who plays Chris Higgins in Friday the 13th Part III, who splits open Jason’s head with in axe).

Some of the bigoted townies (including Don Stroud, Search and Destroy/House by the Lake) pin the blame on a couple of er, “red”-herring Native Americans.

Tepid stuff.

Sweet Sixteen is a pretty procedural snore-fest and not the under-seen gem the reviewer had hoped. And playing “hey, isn’t that_________?” wears thin pretty quick.

**1/2 (out of 5)